The Best Whiskies We Tried at Whisky Live Manila 2017

The most interesting, most memorable spirits from Manila’s largest whisky event.

by Philbert Dy

Whisky Live was two straight days of tasting whisky from all over the world. As much as our spirit was willing to try everything, our bodies (particularly our livers) could only take so much. But we did manage to get a good sampling of the wider world of whisky that’s available to the thirsty Filipino now. Here are five of the whiskies that most intrigued our palates.





So this is a whisky that’s been aged in rum barrels. But they didn’t just buy a bunch of used rum barrels and stick whisky in it. Balvenie, which owns it own cooperage, made new barrels and put rum in there. After a year of the barrel wood soaking in the rum, the barrels are emptied, and then the whisky is aged in them for a couple of years. The result of this frankly ludicruous process is a whisky that finishes with a burst of sunshine, tropical fruit cutting through the familiar vanilla and caramel flavors of the Balvenie. It’s a stunning spirit that feels tailor made for a place like the Philippines.





KOVAL is a distillery out of Chicago that opened in just under ten years ago. And they seem more inclined to do things a little differently. Their bourbon and their rye whiskies are pretty good expressions of their style, but the variant that intrigued us the most was the white whiskey. It’s a rye spirit that isn’t aged in a barrel, spending only enough time in contact with wood so that it can legally be called a whiskey. Without the influence of the wood, one gets a clearer taste of what rye actually brings to the spirit. It’s kind of like vodka, but much more interesting.





So Christmas is coming up, and you might want to find a whisky that recalls the flavors of the season. Look no further than Auchentoshan Three Wood, which is finished in two different kinds of sherry casks, which results in some profound dried fruit flavor, mixed in with some spice and notes of chocolate. So this is a whisky that recalls the flavors of a fruitcake. Happy holidays!





Peated whiskies will always be a love-it-or-hate-it proposition for many. But Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte might help bridge that gap for a lot of people. The smoke and iodine and salt is there, but it has this surprisingly satisfying fruit finish that stays on the palate for a remarkably long time. The winner of Whisky Live’s bartending competition made drinks with Port Charlotte, leaning into the spirit’s savory qualities to make startingly complex drinks that feel like they could be full meals.





After tasting literally dozens of whiskies, you start to doubt your ability to taste anything. But when we tried Glengoyne Cask Strength, it qualities perked our tongues right back up. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s bottled at nearly 120 proof, and our alcohol-addled brains could only process something of that strength. But it arrives on the palate like an atomic bomb of malty flavor. It’s a straightforward without being boring, and it kept us going for the rest of the night.